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review 2018-12-01 20:34
An Army, a Parliament, a King, and a dash of idealism
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

'It was never going to be anything other than it was. The route to being rid of him.’

 

Second in Stella Riley's Roundheads and Cavaliers series, we're once again immersed into political, societal, and familial drama during the second part of the English Civil War (1640s). The first in the series (The Black Madonna) was about the build up and first part while also introducing us to three families and other assorted characters that represented sides of the war. While the first installment mainly followed a Roundhead family along with an outsider's perspective, our heroine is a Cavalier and forced to marry a Roundhead.

 

While in the first, I thought the author had too many irons in the fire that lead to a somewhat fractured story, she nails the inclusion of real historical events and people with her fictional characters. Our hero Gabriel is a Colonel in the Roundhead army and thus, we are given an amazing inclusion and relay of the events of the day.

 

So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it. I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

 

If you read the first in the series, you'll remember Venetia and her betrothal to Ellis Brendan. She's a heroine that will make you feel like she takes stubbornness and obstinate actions to the next level for the majority of the story. Her forced hand and lack of control in instances of vital importance are worth remembering but mirrored against Gabriel's strong, steadfast, and generous attitude, will have you feeling very frustrated with her. Their romance is very slow burning and the turmoil swirling around them are much more front and center; this is historical fiction with a thread of romance. That is not to say that their romance isn't inspired, Gabriel is a hero you'll fall in love with, just that I couldn't help reveling in all the historical drama taking place.

 

Said Algernon Sidney, ‘The King can be tried by no Court; and no man can be tried by this Court.’

I tell you,’ replied Cromwell, ‘we will cut off his head with the Crown upon it.’

 

The way the author relayed history and wove it into a story that was entertaining along with intellectually stimulating deserves a standing ovation. I was lost into the various different factions of the Army, Parliament, rising up of Levellers, and various others fighting for control, and bringing and introducing new ideals that pop up in our government today. This was living breathing history that directly shaped and impacts us today. I felt the passion of Free-born John, the self-righteousness of Cromwell, the weariness and fear of the people, and the monumental moment of trying a King.

 

Our heroine and hero have a bit of side story and drama but I thought the author did a better job, than the first, of integrating it into the overall and spotlight deserving Army and Parliament battles of the Civil War. Books like this is how you reach people who think history is boring, they'll learn, it will spark thinking, and be entertained. I can't wait to read on in the series to follow along with these characters Riley has created to see what becomes of them, not mention England's growth struggle.

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review 2018-10-01 21:28
Assassinations, ruby hilt daggers, Richard the Lionheart, and Irishmen
King's Warrior - Kris Kennedy

She stepped to him, pressed her breasts up against him. His thighs were hard against the front of hers, the hilts of his weapons bumped against her hips and belly, and dark, dangerous desire burned in his eyes. She wanted all of it. All of him. “Show me.” She slid her arms around his neck. “For I have been dying to be wanted the way you do.”

 

The first in the Renegade Lords series and an expanded version of a previously published novella, King's Warrior came in heavy with the steamy sex scenes and finished up with a historical fiction twist. Beginning with an introduction to a group of criminal boys, this story focuses on Tadhg, the one who decides to strike out on his own.

 

This worried her, that she would experience chills of excitement because a stranger had promised he’d return after he dragged the bodies of rogue soldiers to a whorehouse and dumped them for her.

She turned inside to stuff rags in the other men’s mouths.

 

As usual with Kennedy's couples, they sparked, sizzled, and steamed up the pages. Tadhg (author provides a link to a Youtube video to hear how the name is pronounced) and Magdalena pretty much have an instant chemistry and lust. While the sex scenes were always inspiring, they popped up too frequently in the first half for me; I'm more of a fan of gradual building growth to the bedroom or up against the wall, as was the case at times here. 

 

The King handed him the dagger. “Take it, Irish, take it and run hard.”

 

The second half is where we get to the meat of the adventure and the explanation as to why Tadhg is on the run. In this fictional version of history, King Richard just may have paid for a group of assassins to kill the King of Jerusalem. The King of France, Prince John, and Geoffrey d'Argent the Baron of Sherwood are chasing Tadhg trying to get the dagger he carries that will implicate Richard in the assassination. (The author provides this fascinating look at how she took real history, weaved it in and out to create this story) It was fun and exciting to see real historical figures like Richard the Lionheart, William Marshal, Earl of Huntington, Prince John, and Sherwood flitter in and out of the scenes.

 

He knew now that even if he never saw Ireland again, he’d still somehow found his way home.

 

With the sex scenes appearing a bit too soon and taking over the first half, the story felt somewhat uneven with the more plot heavy second half. The sex scenes and plot were done well, they just didn't mesh. Magdalena was the stronger character of the two with Tadhg's past resting to much in the shade to give him a flush character feel. However, Tadhg and Magdalena never lacked for passion and I'm wildly anticipating Tadhg's circle of friends' stories.

 

“It is too good,” she whispered.

“I know,” he rasped, and sucked her bottom lip into his mouth.

 

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review 2018-09-05 19:20
Not the Cinderella story that you know...
 All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother - Danielle Teller

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~BOOK BLURB~

All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother

Danielle Teller

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We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

 

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story…

 

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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Take the story of Cinderella and take out all the fantastical elements and you'll have an idea of what this story is about.  This is not fantasy…it's more like historical fiction.  This is all the harshness and unfairness of the medieval times with a Cinderella twist.  Told from the point of view of Agnes…the so-called wicked Step-mother.  Her story is decidedly poignant and I totally empathized with her.  Despite having some slow spots in the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and by the halfway point, I was totally invested. 

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

4.2STARS - GRADE=B+

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4.2/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.8/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 3.5/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.3/5

Originality~ 4.7/5

Ending~ 4.5/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ It's okay…

Narration~4 for Jane Copeland, was admirably done.

Setting~ Some sort of Shire and a royal court, it was hard to decipher.

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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review 2018-07-23 21:46
The Vow: A Loveswept Historical Medieval Romance - Juliana Garnett

Ceara is a rarity in medieval times, taking the helm of battle against the Normans after her father falls in battle. Successful in fending off a first attack against her home, she's not so lucky going against Luc Louvat, who ends up conquering more than her lands. 

 

This read is mixed with a whole lot of history and political intrigue - which got a bit much in places, but the sprinkles of romance and Ceara's indomitable antics, along with her somewhat tamed wolf pet, made this a good read.

 

The Vow features: 

 

historical romance

sexual content

intrigue

mystery

suspense

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review 2018-06-27 14:34
Emotional
Forbidden - Helen Kirkman

For more comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden

"The marks that are on me will be there all my life, not to be hidden by overlong hair, or by clothing, so that no one asks any awkward questions. They will always be there and even if they were not, even if it were possible to be rid of them it would not matter. 
Because they are nothing to what is on the inside."
 


Written in a different tone, think languid, poetic, and atmospheric, and voice, think internal/emotional, this story felt quite unique and unlike a lot of romance books. I'm usually a fast reader but this story made me slow down and take breaks, instead of my read in one to three sittings. The tone can drag you down at times as a lot of the action takes place from our hero and heroine's internal thoughts but it ramps up the emotional aspects. The writing style won't be for everyone but if you can let the characters and setting seep into you, you'll enjoy and get lost in Rowena's struggle to survive as a woman in limited power and the thrall Wulf she buys to help her. 

The author did a good job with the power dynamics, Wulf is the slave but as a man and more strength than Rowena, he has his own sense of power. Their relationship was slow burning and sparking at different turns and as most the story depends on them together, their chemistry does not disappoint. Rowena was a great heroine who acknowledges and uses what powers she has and while I liked Wulf, I would have liked his backstory to have been revealed earlier, would have filled out his character more. 

You will definitely enjoy the historical aspect of the story. The author does an incredible job setting the time and place with harvest festivals mentioned, terminology, and even an inclusion of King Ines (who I think gets overshadowed by Alfred the Great too often). 

There's heat, passion, and betrayal in this one. I enjoyed going to a different time and place and while the tone and slower pace may not be for everyone, if you're looking to escape the typical romance, this one would fit the bill.

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